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Make Me a Better (Online) Car Salesman!

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Comments

  • It may surprise you to know that I have never started out using the four square method when negotiating with a customer.

    I don't negotiate that way and for the most part payments aren't an issue at our store unless you are talking lease payments and in that cause you have to negotiate a payment on a lease.

    I have actually had customers ask that I show them how the numbers break down using the four square method though. Not in so many words at least cause they for the most part do not know what it is called but after laying the numbers out how they asked I was in a four square grid format.

    If you have so many issues with buying cars from dealerships just go buy highline cars at smaller volume dealers and you won't run into all these tricks you keep complaining about. Either that or buy off ebay and private sellers.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    As for myself, I am easily confused if I try to make a decision on the spur of the moment. Therefore, I do not negotiate when we buy a car. We write our OTD offer on paper, the sales person carefully carries it to the sales manager, and they either accept it or send us on our way.

    If that method gets you the balance between price and hassle-reduction that you seek, then use it. We don't all need to take the same path to arrive at our destinations, just so long as we arrive safely and happily. I enjoy the dance -- I cut deals for a living, so for me, it's just part of the entertainment.

    By the way, to clarify, I haven't quite spelled out everything I do -- for one, I don't wish to fully educate the dealers as to what they should be looking for. (Knowledge is power, so you may as well withhold the knowledge.)

    The main thing is that since car sales closing methods are aggressive by design, I respond to them by taking a somewhat zen approach by avoiding direct confrontation, at least until we're past the sales guy's "point of no return" (you'll know this when you see it.) Immediate confrontation and a "you can't push me around!" attitude simply turns the negotiation into a tug-of-war that also gives him valuable intelligence about how much I really know, a tidbit of info that I don't want to give away any earlier than I have to.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 16,182
    We write our OTD offer on paper, the sales person carefully carries it to the sales manager, and they either accept it or send us on our way.

    I have to ask, when you shop who makes the offer first? You or the dealer?

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2014 BMW 428i convertible, 2015 Honda CTX700D

  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    If you have so many issues with buying cars from dealerships just go buy highline cars at smaller volume dealers and you won't run into all these tricks you keep complaining about.

    For one, I don't have any issues with buying cars, I'm just explaining the typical system to people. For me, buying a car is relatively painless, and I even kinda enjoy it.

    For another, buying a high-end car is no guarantee whatsoever that the games don't get played -- just look at our would-be BMW lessee above for a good example. But again, it's no big deal for the consumer who learns that it really is a game, and that it is easily played if you approach it with some knowledge and the right attitude. Frankly, it would be a tougher game to play if the dealer tactics weren't so common, but the systems are consistent enough that it is easy to adjust accordingly.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    I am a dealer, and I have been reading how a lot of you internet shoppers are not getting price quotes when you say you requested them.
    I know with the company I work for, our leads that come in from Mazda's web site say absolutely nothing about a price quote. I learned my lesson after an internet shopper was quite mad that they did not get a quote. He eventually did come in to buy a car, and I showed him what I received on my end, and he apologized for being rude in his initial email.
    I also give the same quote to everyone over the internet. Our dealership quotes 1.5% over dealer invoice on all but hard to come by models. If the deal comes down to saving that customer an additional $100 or so, we will do it. I'm not dumb enough to lose a deal over $100.
    In my opinion, internet sales are pretty easy, it's just tough to get responses sometimes.
  • I tend to disagree biancar. I have lost sales by being too verbose while the competition in San Jose was able to beat my price in broken English.
  • I didn't just say high end I said low volume too.

    Most BMW dealers are not low volume operations. We sold a 110 or so new cars last year which is fine for us. Land Rover's goal for our dealership was 140 or so which was dumb since at the end of the year we did not have 30 cars left on the lot to sell but anyway I digress.

    The whole time thing wasting thing doesn't really matter here since we might go a couple of days without having a new customer come in. Its the low volume that is key we don't have high pressure in fact I would say it is no pressure. Granted we don't sell cars for 500 dollars over invoice and the term "Rebates" for the most part does not enter our vocabulary either.

    Not everybody is out to get you. I just spent three hours with a customer today going over all of the numbers on his lease. This guy has been in four times previously and I still had no problem spending my whole afternoon with him to finalize everything. He was trying to find where we were screwing him over because he just knew we were some where. It just blew his mind that we were straight up with him and so we must be hiding something.

    We walked him through the whole proces of how his lease was created showed him Land Rovers lease programs from our own binders and what these numbers mean. Honestly he was wasting his own time not mine because after he spent three hours trying to find what we were hiding he realized we weren't hiding anything. After it was all said and down and all the dust settled he just wanted to know if we could take off another 300 dollars off the purchase price of the car.

    Well yeah of course we can there it changes your lease payment by like 8 dollars.

    He was happy he met one of our dealer principals who came into see how things were going and they talked out side for another 30 minutes after we were done.
  • Here's what I received from one of my quote requests. By the way, I never got a quote, just more junk email:

    Hello Marty,

    Thank you for contacting Beverly Hills BMW. I want to thank you for thinking of Beverly Hills BMW for your automotive needs. This is an automated response e-mail to confirm that your Our Website request has been received and your next step will be for me to check our current inventory for vehicle availability. I will be contacting you shortly with my results.

    Many of our online customers have told us that they would like to bypass the traditional way of shopping for a car. This is why we designed our internet department to be a smart 'No Hassle' car buying experience. Our customers using the Internet are telling us they are enjoying their experience. The following are what a few of our customers have told us:

    (INSERT - 2-3 short testimonials from reply e-mails... Get the customer's permission to only use firstname/city and comments)

    If you need to get in touch with me immediately, please do not hesitate to call me directly at xxx xxx xxxx (deleted for posting)

    Thanks Again,

    Beverly Hills BMW
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,232
    biancar,

    I understand. I probably wouldn't ever sell you a car.

    You would probably pay too much elsewhere because of your stubborness to simply pick up the phone.

    Not a problem.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,232
    " I don't wish to fully educate the dealers"

    Give me a break! I would smell every cute little trick you were about to pull.

    "somewhat zen approach"

    What a joke!
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    Thanks for that answer. I guess the nature of your product line and low volume makes the process a bit different -- you aren't going to be as eager to give away your inventory, being that you churn through so little of it.

    That makes sense for your product line. And as a result, I would probably not buy from a shop like that, being that I am highly price conscious, but I'm sure others would prefer it.
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    Aviboy actually has a good thought, or just making everything that is not low in supply/high demand 1.5% over invoice, so it gives the customer a fair deal, and the dealer a few hundred tom play with, if he has a super-tight customer.

    DrFill
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    Give me a break! I would smell every cute little trick you were about to pull.

    I'll make a serious comment that I hope that you can take in stride -- you are acting very much like the stereotypical sales guy, which makes you very easy to manage, because it is straight out of the playbook. Your ego is easily used against you in these sorts of negotiations, and the screaming and shouting won't work to close against a knowledgable customer.

    You might want to look at the Mazda sales guy's approach for one way to make sales online. Rather than demand phone calls and have things done your way, just give the customer an easy experience, close the deal and move on.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,232
    But, you really think you have all of the answers. I am not your stereotypical anything. I'm a ex-corporate type that is about as laid back as anyone you've met in this business.

    I don't need to look at anyone's approach and I don't "demand" anything. I sell a lot of cars and I have very high satisfaction ratings. A huge part of my business is to repeat and referral customers.

    I must be doing at least a few things right.
  • The store where I used to work kept things very simple on the Internet side of the business. Everything was invoice plus $200 minus any rebates except for any particualar "hot" model. Every customer who made an enquiry via e-mail or a web site form was given an exact price if they specified what they wanted or the $200 over figure if they were a little vague. With 50+ enquiries a day it was far easier to do than sending out a form e-mail asking people to call, plus it was a lot more productive too. My own experience is that people who try to price/buy cars over the Internet don't want to be 'phoning dealerships for whatever reason they have. Why not accept that and work with them via e-mail.
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    Snake, we make the first, and only, offer. We do our research before going to the dealer so we know exactly how much we are willing to pay.
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    "just go buy highline cars at smaller volume dealers and you won't run into all these tricks you keep complaining about."

    Brit, I can't recall complaining about anything. I love cars and I love the car buying process because I can do it my way. My wife and I very much enjoyed buying our last two cars.

    In fact, I can't think of anything I would change about the car-buying process.
  • Cause your "system" is simple. You have a price you want to pay and you will only pay that price and you are serious about it. It is so frustrating when someone gives you are stupid low-ball number and then hangs out haggling with you for 45 minutes about the price. You know the person is not serious about the number cause if they were they would have just left when it was rejected.

    At least with your "system" the dealership knows this guy is serious and can let you walk if the number is truly too low. Saves everybody time and while my dealership might be different in that we don't do the volume for that time wasting to matter all that much I know it is very different at high volume stores.

    People complain about sales men/women lying but customers do it too. Just be straightforward and if the person you are dealing with is straightforward you will be able to tell. If he is not then you don't want to deal with them.
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    What if the dealership has the car and trim you want, but the options are off 6-700 one way or the other? That throps off your numbers, doesn't it? What margin are you allowing the dealer?

    DrFill
  • golicgolic Posts: 714
    As jaded as this sounds, I really enjoy the car buying process as well. Sure there are tactics on each side, but with the background available with Edmunds, CR and many others if you spend a little time educating yourself you should be able to find a dealer to make a fair deal.

    I mean, lets face it when you go into Sears trying to buy the washing machine, there is no guidance out there what invoice price is.

    My only hang up right now, and for the first time in my car buying experience is I don't know what car I want to buy. But I do know that if I was remotely near Mackabee, Isellhondas, and rover there is no doubt I would be contacting them.

    So, if they want to give me a good deal and throw in an airplane ticket and pick me up at the airport- SOLD! *snicker*

    And now for some strange reason, I am almost willing to go with socala4 next time he buys a car- I think it would just fascinating to watch his wheels spin. *wink*
  • mackabeemackabee Posts: 4,709
    I never went that far. Eastern shore only. However that was when I was a one man show. When the department grew and I was "farming out" the sales whoever got the sale took care of driving the car out to the customers home or business. Those days are gone for me. The way things are being run now are totally different. Thanks for the info on Laurel.
    Mackabee
  • mackabeemackabee Posts: 4,709
    So, if they want to give me a good deal and throw in an airplane ticket and pick me up at the airport- SOLD! *snicker

    Done that too!
    :shades:
    Mackabee
  • mackabeemackabee Posts: 4,709
    drfill, if you have checked out your competition you would know that Hondas come in one way and one way only. I think the only options or accessories are floor mats, mudguards, etc.., things that can be added at the dealership so there's not going to be any surprises on the window sticker.
    :shades:
    Mackabee
  • golicgolic Posts: 714
    ...and that is what I "enjoy" about Honda. The Volvo XC90 has more menu options than a Chinese buffet. Even Toyota has a little and this and that which can leave your head spinning.

    I like the pilot, in that it is either ex/lx - then just "add" leather, or navi or ent. and you are done.

    Perhaps I am too simple.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    And now for some strange reason, I am almost willing to go with socala4 next time he buys a car- I think it would just fascinating to watch his wheels spin.

    I'm enjoying your comments because of their presumptiousness, but you really have no idea what I do. There's no spinning and its actually very easy, because throughout most of the transaction, the dealer does all the dancing and I just follow his lead. He gets to feel like he's in charge, which is exactly what folks like ISellHondas want.
  • golicgolic Posts: 714
    I was being genuine in my post. I guess from how I looked at it as a buyer, I always felt I had the "best" control since I could walk out of the dealership at anytime, no matter how "good" they can make the deal.

    I am sure any good salesman want to "control" the negotiations and be convincing, but until you "sign" to me the buyer has the power.

    No socala, you seem to know alot and most posters on this board do, but I would venture to say that the majority of the american car buyers purchase thier cars based on the monthly payment. *nodnod*

    They don't care nor understand purchase price, interest rate, but they DO KNOW that at the end of the month I have $399 to pay for a car. And that IS prolly how they negotiate. I don't think the "4 square" method was some parlor trick invented by the dealers i think it evolved on how the majority of consumers negotiated car deals.

    I think we learned from this post that an internet sales manager can not be all things to all people. The methods rover uses to pushes his $60,000 steel on wheels probably would not be successful at the cars going for 1/3 that price.

    I think every "internet" salespersons <--note my pc" job is to know thier consumer and market segment and tailor thier salemanship to that market as best as you can. There is no one perfect model. I think each internet guy needs to understand who is consumer/market is and then go after him that way.

    I think Dealerships should get more agressive on emails. Each sales guy should get an email as well as the service department. The internet guy should follow up with the people who didnt buy a car...with hey, you came in 3 weeks ago..still in the market...can we give a no hassle quote or even - at your last service your Honda had 120K miles on it, are you looking to get into a new vehicle...etc .etc..
  • Hmhhh well we are only 30 minutes, 15 minutes if I drive in my car ;) , from the Bradley airport.

    There is one car that we have on the lot that has so much spin to win money, Land Rovers version of a manufacturer spiff, that I would gladly split it with you. Would probably pay for your plane ticket plus a little extra. :)
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    "The Volvo XC90 has more menu options than a Chinese buffet."

    That is how American cars used to be. Every car had a bunch of options.

    Toyota still does that to some degree, but Honda doesn't. Both companies seem to be prospering, so I guess they must know what they are doing. The Honda method sure makes it easier for customers.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,232
    I would drop you like a bad habit. I would figure you out in an instant..NEXT!
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,994
    Hey you two (socala4, isellhondas) don't let your "egos" get the best of you. ;)

    However I do agree that sometimes if your just looking it's fun to "play" with car salesmen that want
    "power & control" over the customer.
    (It's not directed to you isellhondas )

    However when I'm serious about buying a car it's sometimes a turn off to waste time playing "tag" between myself, salesmen, salesmanger, and I usually leave after 10 minutes of this game.

    Rocky
  • pdanapdana Posts: 19
    It's like pulling teeth to get a quote from the dealerships near my home. Some recent experiences, I emailed asking for a quote - got email back asking to call. I called asking for a quote - got asked to come in so they could "work with me". By then I was getting tired of it, but I went in anyway. Asked salesperson for price four times. He insisted I drive the car. I told him it was for my wife, and she wasn't with me. Finally, after being there for 30 min. I get a outrageously high number and am told they won't negotiate. I think it would have been easier just to have told me that in the email.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,994
    Yeah pal, that's a turn off. This can ruin a particular brand "locally" because of dealership ethics. The manufactors need to discipline out of control dealerships that have no morales or buisness ethics. I've been their, done that and that's even with my GM discount. The price is suppose to be set ans mysteriously it fluctuated from dealer to the next. :mad:

    Rocky
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 24,657
    >"egos"

    !!!!!!!

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 24,657
    I've read Isellhondas' posts for years now. He's just like the salesman at my local Buick dealer. He tells it straight and honest; he doesn't mislead or lie. He's trying to make money on the deal and make a repeat customer because you later are sure you got a good deal.

    If I lived in that corner of the country, he might turn me from a Buick large car buyer into a Honda buyer.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 16,182
    Yeah I get this impression that any seasoned salesman would see this guy for what he is rather quickly. My guess is that he has had a lot of bad experiences with buying a car and may have brought some on himself through his actions. He sounds like he is looking for a conflict in his approach to buying a car.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2014 BMW 428i convertible, 2015 Honda CTX700D

  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    My guess is that he has had a lot of bad experiences with buying a car and may have brought some on himself through his actions.

    Not a surprising comment from a guy who didn't haggle most of his car purchases.

    My car buying experiences have actually been quite fun, because the game is enjoyable to play if you know how to play it. I've bought cars from guys like ISellHondas before, and they were exceptionally easy to deal with because they follow an established path and act predictably. Take this thread, for example...
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,994
    I gotta agree with you for once. No "pun" intended to isellhondas.

    Rocky
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 16,182
    Not a surprising comment from a guy who didn't haggle most of his car purchases.

    I haggle most of my car purchases, and more importantly research prices and shop around. But then again if you got the right contacts you don't need to haggle ;)

    Anyways you said you want to drag them through the mud, when you do that you also get muddy. People in sales play this "game" all the time and will beat you with experience. The question now becomes were they easy to deal with, or were you. I know people in auto sales, they love playing people like you.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2014 BMW 428i convertible, 2015 Honda CTX700D

  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    I know people in auto sales, they love playing people like you.

    Judging from how it looks from my side of the table, I'd say that they don't like it very much at all. What appeared to be going so well for them at first turns out to be such a disappointment!

    Since I've done business deals much larger than this in my professional life, a car purchase is small potatoes in comparison. And I end up with the car at my price, because everyone's money is green, even if it is a bit muddy.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 16,182
    yeah you end up with a car at your price. Doesn't mean its the best price. ;)

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2014 BMW 428i convertible, 2015 Honda CTX700D

  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    "It's like pulling teeth to get a quote from the dealerships"

    Pdana, that's what we found when we were looking at cars in 1994. I asked how much the car would cost and I could not get an answer.

    I quickly learned to not ask the sales person for a price. Instead, we give them our offer. Life is much simpler that way.
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    "People in sales play this "game" all the time and will beat you with experience. The question now becomes were they easy to deal with"

    Snake, from our experience, all sales people are easy to deal with if the buyer knows what he is doing.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 16,182
    True. My point was that if you go into such a situation in a confrontational manner you will end up in a conflict.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2014 BMW 428i convertible, 2015 Honda CTX700D

  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    True. My point was that if you go into such a situation in a confrontational manner you will end up in a conflict.

    But I offer absolutely no confrontation. I begin the process as a "dream customer", and gradually move from that position to that of the low-cost buyer.

    It's the old frog-in-boiling-water analogy applied to car sales. Rather than turn up the heat immediately, turn it up slowly so the guy is cooked before he knows it. Very easy way to do business, because the sales guy spins his wheels with his usual pitch, falsely believing things are going just swimmingly for him and he has everything under control...until it's too late...
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 16,182
    But I offer absolutely no confrontation.

    Did you or did you not say you want to drag them through the mud? that sounds confrontational no matter how you present yourself. FWIW Salesmen are well aware of that tactic and it usually doesn't work.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2014 BMW 428i convertible, 2015 Honda CTX700D

  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,994
    OH MY GAWD - that is a classic. ;):D

    Rocky
  • You know, you're making this needlesly complicated. The salesperson is trying to discount the car as little as possible, but enough to make the sale. If you do any homework at all, he is already in Mini or Flat territory. He could care less what the final agreed upon price is, as long as his manager will approve it, because he gets paid the same regardless. It really is that simple. So to say "the guy is cooked", or "its too late", is really kind of ridiculous. He is just trying to push a car out the door, and you're just trying to buy one (if you're serious). All the gamemanship is just that, a one sided game you seem to get some satisfaction out of playing, kind of like half table ping pong. The salesperson probably just thinks you're a PITA, and laughs about it when you leave.
  • Wow, you have obviously never been car shopping. If it were truly like that, these forums would not exist. Even if you tell a dealer upfront that you know exactly what you are doing, what you want and that you have done your research on price, they still try to play the same old back and forth against you. Nearly every single time.

    I had to go through 15 Honda dealers before I found one that realized that I was not an idiot and I was ready to deal. He stopped his games immediately and got down to his best price. Guess what? He got the sale.
  • Well, I guess you may need to be more persuasive. I have never had a problem in 45 years of car buying, probably around 50 cars for myself and immediate family. But like Bobst, I tell them up front what I expect. You truly have my sympathy if it took you 15 times to convince them.....
  • biancarbiancar Mid-AtlanticPosts: 965
    "I also give the same quote to everyone over the internet. Our dealership quotes 1.5% over dealer invoice on all but hard to come by models. If the deal comes down to saving that customer an additional $100 or so, we will do it."

    Now that seems like the smart way to do internet business. Treat people (almost) equally with a reasonable price. A simple, straight-forward business model that gives internet customers what they want.
This discussion has been closed.